Now that your child is at primary school they may have already been on school excursions, play dates with friends, family gatherings with cousins or thinking about joining local sporting clubs.
The developmental delay experienced by many young children with ASD may mean that they still struggle with understanding expected behaviours in the community and that there are consequences for choices made. Safety can be an area of risk as your child with ASD is still possibly unaware of activities or situations that may be more dangerous than others.
Your child’s primary school will have put in strategies to ensure your child is safe in the school playground while accessing play equipment and when attending off site programs. Keep in close contact with the school to find out what has worked for them and share with them what has worked for you. This way you will have a consistent approach to safety and activities.
Accessing the community is an important part of your child’s development that will support them into the future. Your child with ASD will however, require some structure and predictability around community events in order to make sense of what is happening and to reduce where possible any anxiety around these outings. The continued use of your child’s visual schedule will assist them to predict and manage what is planned for the morning or other segments of the day. We all benefit from knowing what is planned for the day but your child with ASD relies upon the visual schedule to manage in their particular way, so they can process what is going to happen.
Many primary aged children begin to become involved in outside school recreation groups. This is a wonderful opportunity for your child to extend their world beyond the family and school group and learn new skills. Depending upon your child’s capacity to manage, and the affect their ASD has upon their communication, social and sensory needs, you may or may not need to disclose their needs to the recreational organisation. You know your child best, consider the facilities, location, expectations and make your decision. For further assistance with this check out our checklist for community access.
The experiences you provide now for your young child within the community, will develop the many skills required to keep them safe and to be an active participant in their community now and in the future years. This is also an opportunity for you as a family to build community connections and have fun with your child as you experience their achievements with them!